Thursday, November 29, 2007

Portland Arrival

Portland is wet. The clouds hang down over the city just as they do in the Netherlands. And it's still beautiful. I'm oh, so happy to be here.

Our flight from Newark to Portland was full of travelers attending the Davis Cup final. You'd have thought it was a charter plane. Folks were talking in the aisles about the USA's chances. Some were speculating that Andy Roddick and Mike Bryan are still injured, others that they're healthy and ready to go.

Apparently, Continental Airlines is a USTA airline, so it wasn't a big surprise that so many DC attendees were on board.

Tennis Channel's Katrina Adams was on our flight. Yep. That's us pictured above right after we got off the plane. No comments from the peanut gallery about how weary I look. I slept for most of the six-hour flight. I was weary.

I still am. On that note, I'm signing off till tomorrow. The tie begins with Roddick versus Dmitry Tursunov, which could be the key match of the weekend. Right out of the gate.

Let the games begin.

Go USA!!!

P.S. We hung out most of the afternoon/evening at a smoky sports bar (I thought Oregon would have banned smoking in bars by now!) watching the Cowboys beat the Packers as mmmm8 from TAT used my laptop to post her photos and summary from today's draw ceremony. Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Week That Was

by Savannah

Very short week with the Davis Cup Final between Russia and the United States starting on Friday, November 30. I, for one, am totally neutral about this Final.

I'm also continuing my Best Photos of 2007 - WTA. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Elena Dementieva

Murray Picks A Home Boy

Fresh from kicking Brad Gilbert to the curb Neal Harman reports that Andy Murray has started work with someone Pat Cash thought would be a good match for him.

Andy Murray has asked Miles Maclagan, the former Great Britain Davis Cup player who was born in Zambia of Scottish parents, to spend three weeks with him at a training camp in Florida with a view to joining the team designed to take the British No 1 to the next stage of his tennis development.

Maclagan flew to the United States yesterday, excited at the opportunity to get to know Murray better, getting used to his manner and his modus operandi as the 20-year-old prepares mind and body to embark on what is being billed as a great year of opportunity. If the two really hit it off — they have an excellent relationship already but one not tested by one working for the other — it could become a permanent arrangement.
Maclagan would offer a different approach. Quiet, unassuming but with a smashing manner and big heart, he could be the kind of person to bring the best out of Murray. And anyone whose parents’ names are Ramsay and Elsie ought to go down well in the Murray household.

Remarkably, in his column in The Sunday Times two years ago, Pat Cash, the former Wimbledon singles champion, suggested that the pair should link up. He wrote: “Some might view my tip as off the wall, but I would nominate Miles Maclagan, the former British Davis Cup player who is doing a good job coaching the highly ranked doubles duo of
Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett. Miles may not have been a great player, but few of the really top coaches managed to hit the high spots. However, he is hard-working, diligent, extremely aware technically and works closely with Moose Stevens, a former Aussie Rules footballer who is one of the best fitness experts on the tour. And he’s Scottish.”

So what will he do when Murray goes off the deep end? Slap him across the face with haggis?

Jelena Jankovic

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...
According to Mr. Federer being with Mirka has made him less self absorbed. It's apparently from that article back in April of this year but with many fans creating new nick names for him every day it's nice to know that the man called the Ego King is just a humble bloke who likes hanging out with his girl.

It's really Mirka, he explains, who has opened him up. He used to be self-absorbed, watching himself on tape, reliving every ball—it became something of a joke. "Playing tennis and watching myself play tennis was all I did." From there, he says, he graduated to video games—a habit he shares with Tiger Woods—which were almost an addiction for him. He liked the way they allowed him "to disappear." He would play Top Spin, Sega Sports Tennis. Sometimes he played virtual versions of his closest friends on the tour, Carlos Moya or Tim Henman. Otherwise he would play with his own "Federer" avatar. He has attempted to kick the habit. "It is not so much fun for Mirka," he says. He tries to go out and see whatever city they are in that week instead. "It is important that I do not send Mirka crazy by just obsessing about tennis." Or, you guess, himself.

Mens Vogue

Ana Ivanovic

Rafa's Foot
Every fanboard has a discussion going about Rafa's foot injury and comments made by Toni Nadal making it appear that Rafa is walking with a cane and hobbling about. Apparently Toni expanded on the comments Rafa made in the interview posted here about his foot in an interview in a Mallorca newspaper. Here is the interview in Spanish.
Diario De Mallorca
And here is the part of the interview causing the uproar.

- Nadal jugó infiltrado la final de Roland Garros.
- Sí, por la lesión en el pie que desde 2005 tiene afectado.

- ¿Tiene cura?
- Ha de aprender a convivir con esta lesión, y ya hace dos años que convive.

- ¿Es grave?
- Sí.

- ¿Hasta qué punto?
- Prefiero no contestar. Es muy grave.

- ¿Pero peligra su carrera?
- (Pausa). Bueno, no lo sé. Que conteste el médico. Ha de jugar con muchas precauciones.

- ¿Pero es verdad que no puede correr?
- Es un poco más que eso.

- ¿Si tiene un problema tan grave en el pie no sería mejor jugar menos?
- De hecho juega menos. Acabamos contentos con la temporada, de la lesión y de todo. Ha jugado mejor y sus partidos han sido de menos intensidad. Y le ha ido bien.

- Federer juega mucho menos que Rafel.
- Es diferente. Es un tenista totalmente consolidado; Rafel tiene otro tipo de juego. El hecho fundamental es acortar la duración de los partidos, y lo hemos conseguido.

- ¿Jugará contra Perú en Copa Davis?
- La idea es jugar. Pero si gana en Australia y llega tocado habrá que pensárselo.

Here is a very poor machine translation but I think you'll get the point. Any native Spanish speakers are more than welcome to translate the above piece.

- Nadal played infiltrated the final of Roland Garros.
- Yes, of the foot injury that since 2005 has affected.

- Is there a cure?
- It must learn to live with this injury, and two years ago to live.

- Is it serious?
- Yes.

- To what extent?
- I prefer not to answer. This is very serious.

- But his career in jeopardy?
- (Pause). Well, I do not know. To answer the doctor. Has playing with a lot of precautions.

- But it is true that can not run?
- It is a little more than that.

- If I have a very serious problem in the foot it would be better to play less?
- In fact plays less. We just happy with the season, the injury and everything. He has played better and their parties have been less intensity. And he has fared well.

Federer plays-much less that Rafel.
- It's different. Tennis is a totally consolidated Rafel has another type of game. The bottom line is to shorten the length of games, and we succeeded.

- Does He will do against Peru in Davis Cup?
The idea is to play. But if he wins in Australia and comes to think there will be touched.

Note: In Catalan Rafa's name is Rafel.
By the way I thought you Uncle Toni groupies (you know who you are) would like this pic of Toni in the store his wife runs in Palma de Mallorca.

Regis Philbin, Tennis Phenom

Professional tennis players are rarely injured in matches during the off-season, but on Tuesday Venus Williams was left hobbling after playing doubles with talk show host Regis Philbin.

The match was aired on television Wednesday morning during Live with Regis and Kelly, only to have Williams admit that she pulled her hamstring during the match.

“I pulled my hamstring,” said Venus according to the World Entertainment News Network. “I got up this morning and hobble hobble. But I’m used to injuries. I just block them out.”

Venus and Regis teamed up to play doubles against ATP Tour player Mark Knowles and TV producer Michael Gelman.

On The Baseline

Serena Williams

Pet Peeve
Will someone please do away with those links to information, pictures or whatever of tennis players on fanboards? They're quite annoying and for someone with the attention span of a gnat they're also distracting.

Daniela Hantuchova

Just How Old is She?!
Once again questions about just how old Maria Sharapova is are floating around. I would yawn but I guess tennisheads need something to do until the end of December.
Speaking of Maria here's the draw for Hong Kong as posted on Eurosport

Ivanovic vs Dementieva
V.Williams vs Peng

Chakvetadze vs Hantuchova
Sharapova vs Wozniaki
Let's see now...who has the cupcake? Where is that Hickman fellow anyway?

Nicole Vaidisova and Lucie Safarova

Runny Stockings
There's been quite a bit of speculation - okay, guffaws and knowing winks, about a picture taken of the new couple Serena Williams and the rapper known as Common. I don't understand why people are so amused. Every woman has lost her earrings in a car no?

For real though she should have just taken the damn things off and put them in her purse. And I do hope she's covering up because it's cold...

Kim Clijsters

Davis Cup

Don't forget MMMM8 and GVGirl will be posting special coverage live from Portland Oregon starting Friday. Here's an official flag logo from the Davis Cup site.

There's a Mink In My House!

And I'm not talking about a coat.

I was sitting in my office suite this morning and out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. Lo and behold, a dark gray mink was sitting in the adjoining room checking me out.

I know I live on a farm and alla that, but I didn't sign up for wildlife in my office suite. A mouse here or there in the wintertime is one thing, but a mink??!!!

The little critter looked at me and didn't even run that far away when I screamed. He kept trying to peep me from behind trunks and chairs and woodpiles. It's a rather cute little animal, I must say, with it's tiny head and beady eyes. But it doesn't belong in my house.

I set up a Havahart trap with a large chunk of tuna fish as bait per animal control instructions and as you might expect, it's been more than a few hours and the critter hasn't shown up again.

The way the mink kept looking at me with such a friendly face, the way it simply refused to run away, I'm beginning to wonder if a spirit wasn't just dropping by to say hello.

Meanwhile, I'm preparing for my trip to Portland. I've located my NetHead, my red Davis Cup sweatshirt, and my red, white, and blue garb from the quarterfinal tie in Winston-Salem earlier this year.

I can't wait.

I hope we win, what a great end of the year for Andy and James if we clench it (and of course the Bryans, but with their 11 titles this year and their No. 1 ranking, they've alerady had a great year), but I don't underestimate the talent on the Russian squad. As the story goes, in Davis Cup anything can happen.

I fly out before sunrise tomorrow from east-coast Portland and arrive in west-coast Portland by early afternoon local time. I'll be equipped this time with a digital camera and maybe even a videocamera to bring you the sights and sounds of a great city and what I hope will be a great event.

Till then, check out what Bob and Mike Bryan have to say about their experience so far. They're blogging for the ATP this week.

Go USA!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Link Tuesday

Not in the mood for a tirade today, so I'll leave you with all the news that's fit to print.

Primacias (Spanish) - David Nalbandian's family has suffered yet another year-end loss. His father died a few years ago, and last year his godson/cousin was killed in an elevator accident. This time, Nalbandian's aunt was killed by a car that drove onto the sidewalk where she was walking. The driver drove off without stopping but turned himself in to the police several hours later. (Blurb translated by mmmm8)

New York Times - Tennis made the front page of the nation's most serious paper. Talk of Efforts to Fix Matches Rattles Tennis is the headline. It's below the fold, mind you, but it's on the front page. No such thing as bad publicity?

Daily Mail - Serena Williams had a wardrobe malfunction? No, not in the picture I've posted, but apparently, she was seen in London with her new man in a holey-er than thou way. We can only speculate what she was doing on her knees in the limo... (Be sure to read the comments under the article.)

Tennis Channel - Steve Flink offers up an interesting postscript on the Roger Federer and Pete Sampras exhibitions in Asia.

USA Today - Patrick McEnroe, renaissance man? Um. Okay. He doesn't get good ink in these parts, but what the hell. He's going to get nothing but love from me till he leads the team to Davis Cup glory!

ESPN - And speaking of Davis Cup. Bonnie DeSimone Ford pens another one of her insightful articles, this time about Andy Roddick's dedication to Davis Cup and the unique team that will contest the final this weekend. And then there's this gem. Go USA!!!

10 Davis Cup Facts

Davis Cup, anyone?
By Mark Baker
The Register-Guard

Published: Nov 25, 2007 10:51:29AM

It’s three days after Thanksgiving and a month until Christmas, and you know what that means this time of year in Oregon, right?

Tennis time.

In November? In the Northwest?

Yep. This year, anyway.

That’s because the Davis Cup final — the Super Bowl of tennis tournaments — comes to Portland’s Memorial Coliseum on Friday. Television sets all around the world will be tuned in to the Rose City event.

It’s the United States vs. Russia. And if you didn’t get tickets to the three-day event that begins Friday, well, too bad. They sold out in 30 minutes when they went on sale Oct. 15.

Memorial Coliseum holds just under 13,000 people, and the only option was to buy tickets for all three days.

Of course, you can watch it on television, if you have cable.

With that, here are 10 things — and assorted tidbits — you should know about the 2007 Davis Cup World Group Final:

1.Yes, Oregon, there really is a Davis Cup. And it’s big. It’s 3½feet tall and weighs 323 pounds, and if it hasn’t already arrived in Portland, it’s on its way from the Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline, Mass., where the first Davis Cup final was played in 1900 between the United States and the British Isles team, as part of a world tour during the past year. The silver cup, originally 14 pounds before more than a century’s worth of enhancements, is the world’s oldest sports trophy. Dwight Davis, the Harvard University student and member of the first U.S. Davis Cup team in 1900 who later went on to become President Calvin Coolidge’s secretary of war, paid for the cup that bears his name with about $1,000 of his own money. The cup has been on every continent in the world. It has sat, full of champagne, in Paris nightclubs; had Boris Yeltsin slurp vodka from it; been stolen in Peru; and languished in Melbourne bank vaults during both World War I and World War II.

2.The Davis Cup tournament was originally known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge.

3.The Davis Cup final has not been played in the United States since 1992, when the Americans defeated Switzerland in Fort Worth, Texas. The United States hasn’t won a Davis Cup since beating the Russians in the 1995 final — its longest stretch without winning a cup final — at Olympic Stadium in Moscow. The United States has won more Davis Cups, 31, than any other nation. Australia is second with 28.

4.This year’s Davis Cup final is being played in Portland, the first-ever final for the Pacific Northwest, because the Rose City won the bid over Winston-Salem, N.C., Oklahoma City and San Diego, United States Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier says. “We were looking for a chance to come back to Portland, and the Northwest is a hidden gem for tennis,” Widmaier says.

Portland held Davis Cup semi-final matches in 1981 and 1984. The USTA has little time to find a location whenever the United States advances to a final and is the host country, Widmaier says.

The United States defeated Sweden in September to advance. Logistically, this is a tough time to find an arena for an entire week, with most major arenas, such as the Rose Garden in Portland, dominated by NBA, NHL or college basketball teams.

5.You can watch the Davis Cup finals on TV in the Eugene-Springfield area if you have standard Comcast Cable (Versus, channel 32) or subscribe to the Tennis Channel (Comcast channel 410).

6.The only year a cup final was not played was in 1974, when India refused to compete against South Africa in protest of its apartheid policies. Thus, South Africa is the only nation to ever win a cup by forfeit, and has still never played a single Davis Cup finals match.

7.This year’s Davis Cup tournament began in February with 131 nations competing. Only 16 teams advance to the World Group playoffs in three zones, the American Zone, the Euro/African Zone and the Asia/Oceania Zone.

8.After the United States and Australia (59 titles combined), these nations have also won multiple Davis Cup titles: Great Britain (9), France (9), Sweden (7), Germany (3), Russia (2) and Spain (2).

Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy and South Africa have each won one apiece.

Fifteen nations have hosted the cup final: United States (30), Australia (24), Great Britain (9), France (9), Sweden (6), Russia (3), New Zealand (2), Germany (2), Spain (2), Romania (1), Chile (1), the Czech Republic (1), West Germany (1), Italy (1) and Croatia (1).

9.This year’s U.S. Davis Cup team consists of Andy Roddick, James Blake and brothers Mike and Bob Bryan. The team is coached by Patrick McEnroe.

10. Speaking of McEnroes, Patrick’s brother, John McEnroe, is the greatest player in U.S. Davis Cup history with 41 singles match wins and 59 total. He helped lead the Americans to titles in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1992.

Other all-time American greats in Davis Cup history include Davis himself, who led the United States to victory in that inaugural tournament of 1900; Bill Tilden; Bill Johnston; Bobby Riggs; Jack Kramer; Pancho Gonzales; Arthur Ashe; Stan Smith; Vitus Gerulaitis; Andre Agassi; and Pete Sampras, who led the United States to its last title in 1995.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Best Women's Tennis Matches of 2007

by Mad Professah

1. S. Williams USA d. M. Sharapova RUS, 6-1 6-2, Australian Open final, Melbourne.

After a horrible 2006 where her ranking had fallen out of the Top 100, Serena Williams was completely disregarded as a possible factor in the 2007 Australian Open, even moreso after she lost in the quarterfinals of a Tier III tournament in Hobart, Australia, to little-known Sybille Bammer less than 2 weeks before the start of the year's first Grand Slam in Melbourne. In the early rounds, she looked scrappy and won easily before running into the No. 5 seed Nadia Petrova. She was down a 6-1 set and a break before she came back to win the middle set and cruise through the deciding set to win that match. She easily dispatched hard-hitting Jelena Jankovic in the next round and few people were expecting the fierce battle that occurred in the quarterfinal between Serena and Shahar Pe'er, who served for the match twice before succumbing 8-6 in the 3rd set. After every hard-fought match Serena's game looked stronger and stronger and her powerfully effective serve never abandoned her. However, the final against Maria Sharapova, the No. 1 player in the world and winner of the previous Grand Slam was one of the most powerful displays of tennis by Serena Williams ever--and this from a woman who 4 years before had won 4 consecutive Grand Slams! The performance completely stunned the tennis establishment and sent a devastating signal to the woman who had replaced her as the most highly paid female athlete in the world. There was never any doubt who would win the title from the end of the first two games of the match: Serena was hitting winners from every part of the court and serving aces at will. It immediately set the bar for the best match of the year, which was never surpassed.

2. J. Henin BEL d. M. Sharapova RUS, 5-7 7-5 6-3, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships final, Madrid.

The last match of the year often ends up on Best Matches of the Year lists because it is still fresh in the memory when the entire year's matches are being re-evaluated and compared. In addition, the final of the year-end championships also provide a $1 million prize to the victor. However, this year, like last year (and the year before that) a match from the tour championships has landed in the Top 5 Matches of the Year. This time it was the 3 hour, 24 minute slugfest between the new No. 1 Player in the World and reigning 2007 U.S. Open champ, Justine Henin, and last year's U.S. Open champ, Maria Sharapova. Both players wanted desperately to defeat the other and played some of their best tennis of the year in an attempt to blast their opponent off the court. There were incredible rallies and unbelievable shotmaking from both sides of the net. Sharapova was attempting to salvage a horrible 2007 where she had won only one title during the entire year. Henin was trying to put an exclamation point on a year in which she had won two Grand Slam titles and maintained her #1 ranking for the entire year, winning 10 titles in the process. In the end, Henin won the battle, but Sharapova made the statement that the 5-years younger player would be a factor to be dealt with in 2008 and beyond.

3. S. Williams USA d. J. Henin BEL, 0-6 7-5 6-3, Sony Ericsson Open final, Key Biscayne.

After skipping the Australian Open to "recover from her collapsed marriage," this was the first opportunity the current No. 1 player in the world had to play against the resurgent Serena who had early in the tournament again dismantled Maria Sharapova in straight sets to prove her Australian Open beatdown was no fluke. The entire tennis world was curious to see how the two fierce competitors would match up, especially since it had been nearly 4 years since they had played a WTA tour match against each other. Serena started the match atrociously and before long she was not only bageled (0-6) but was fast approaching elimination as Henin earned two match points in the second set on Serena's serve (3-5). After saving those match points (one with a service winner and the other with a forced error) Serena went on to win a string of 6 consecutive games and easily won the match. However, although Serena was victorious in the first meeting of many these two combatants had in 2007, the 3 others occurred in the quarterfinals of the three remaining Grand Slam tournaments of the year and all went Henin's way, with only the Wimbledon quarterfinal providing a fraction of the drama on display in this Miami final. It will be interesting to see if the two players meet in 2008 and now that Serena's ranking is back in the Top 10, it should occur a bit deeper in the tournament, possibly even on the final Sunday of a Slam.

4. M. Bartoli FRA d. J. Henin BEL, 1-6 7-5 6-1, Wimbledon Championships semifinal, London.

Of course tennis fans were unsurprised to see Henin losing to a French player at Wimbledon, since the defending champion Amelie Mauresmo had beaten the Belgian in the 2006 final. However, the Frecnchwoman the No. 1 player in the world lost to at Wimbledon in 2007 was Marion Bartoli, a relative unknown more widely recognized for her coach/father's unorthodox training regimens. Mauresmo underwent an appendectomy in early Spring and was never much of a factor on tour for the rest of the year. In this match, Bartoli was down a set and 5-3 against the fearsome Belgian when she stormed back to claim the 2nd set and continued her momentum to take the deciding set easily. The result was easily the most astonishing upset of 2007 and I would argue was the biggest upset of the current decade. Bartoli went on to become firmly ensconced in the Top 10 for the rest of the year to confirm that this result was no fluke. However, Henin got her revenge at the year-end championships in Madrid, refusing to let the Frenchwoman win a single game (double bagel).

5. V. Williams USA d. J. Jankovic SRB, 4-6 6-1 7-6(4), U.S. Open Quarterfinal, Flushing Meadows.

It's not often the Wimbledon final doesn't make into the Top 5 Best Matches of the Year but 2007 was that kinda year. Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams both played several excellent matches during the year but this showdown at the final Slam was I think the best of their meetings in 2007. Unfortunately for Venus, I think she peaked in this quarterfinal match and thus was not at 100% against Henin in the semifinals. Jankovic also was simply outlasted here but this match could have gone either way, and was Venus' revenge for losing another incredibly tight match to Jankovic earlier in the year at the Charleston semifinals in a 3rd set tiebreak. Venus had demolished the other "Serbian sister" Ana Ivanovic in straight sets the previous round and thus earned the rare distinction of beating both Serbians in the same Grand Slam. However, Henin earned the even rarer distinction of beating both Williams sisters in a tournament and winning it. After this match it was revealed by her mother and coach Oracene Price that Venus had been complaining of tiredness and anemia was suspected. Hopefully the condition will be treated and Venus will be 100% and fully committed to the tour in 2008.

V. Williams d. M. Bartoli,
6-4 6-1, Wimbledon Championships final.
J. Henin d. A. Mauresmo,
7-5 6-7(4) 7-6(2), Eastbourne Open final.
A. Ivanovic d. N. Vaidisova CZE,
4-6 6-2 7-5, Wimbledon Championships quarterfinal.
M. Sharapova d. V. Williams USA,
2-6 6-2 7-5, Sony Ericsson Open 3rd Round.
V. Williams d. M. Sharapova RUS,
6-1 6-3, Wimbledon Championships 4th Round.
S. Kuznetsova d. J. Henin BEL, 6-4 5-7 6-4, Qatar Telecom German Open semifinal
A. Chakvetadze d. V. Williams USA,
6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-2, Acura Classic quarterfinal.
A. Ivanovic d. S. Kuznetsova RUS,
3-6 6-4 7-6(4) , Qatar Telecom German Open final.
J. Jankovic d. M. Sharapova RUS, 4-6 6-3 7-5, Birmingham DFS Classic final.
E. Dementieva d. S. Williams USA 5-7 6-1 6-1, Kremlin Cup final.
A. Mauresmo d. K. Clijsters BEL,
6-4 7-6(4), Diamond Proximus Games final.
K. Clijsters d. J. Jankovic SRB, 4-6 7-6(1) 6-4, Medibank Sydney International final.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Heard Around

by Savannah

Shahar Pe'er is now being coached by Gabriel Urpi, who will still be working with Flavia Pennetta, and The Moonball Princess Conchita Martinez. Shahar made the decision after what is being called an intensive three weeks of training in Spain. First reaction? What the hell does Conchita know about attacking tennis? She's the main reason I was so turned off women's tennis for a long time. The link is in Hebrew. Shahar's New Coaches

Fernando Gonzalez is going to be playing an exo in Chile on December 6 along with Gisela Dulko, Carlos Moya and Martina Navratilova. Click here for a nice fan blog about Fernando.

I have to give it to Martina Hingis fans. Despite everything many are holding out hope that somehow things will be reversed and she'll be back in the good graces of the WTA tour. One fan, when told that Martina's ranking had been removed from the WTA site said that was because she had retired forgetting that what usually happens is that the players ranking is allowed to fall after retirement until they're no longer on the ranking chart.

I don't say this to gloat. As I've said before I've never been a fan of Miss Motormouth but she has her place among the greats of women's tennis. To blow it all, literally, is a shame not only for her but for women's tennis.

Sportingo has a nice look at Jelena Jankovic's career and what she needs to do going forward.

Kevin Kim of the Unites States beat John Isner 6-2, 6-2 and followed that up by beating Jesse Levine this week. Levine had won back to back Challenger events, one over Donald Young. Mr Levine you will remember is the young man Roger Federer summoned to Dubai to hit with.

Speaking of Roger his fans are going to Rovian (as in Karl Rove) lengths to spin his loss as meaningless in the context of Roger's World. True, it was an exhibition match. True, Pete had to win one or why bother with any future exhibitions. But if you get a chance, watch this highlight film from the second exo. Never a big fan of Pete but watch the shotmaking and movement. Once a great tennis mind always a great tennis mind I say. Pete was gaining confidence here. And Roger was rattled.

Read The Rest and See Savannah's 2007 Best Photos

Friday, November 23, 2007

7 Days and Counting...

Official Team Nominations for 2007 Final

Russia and USA have named their teams for the final of the 2007 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, to be held in Portland on November 30 - December 2.

The official team nominations can be found below. Under Davis Cup rules, up to two nominations may then be changed up to an hour before the draw, which takes place on Thursday 29 November.

World Group Final: USA v Russia
Venue: Portland, Oregon (Hard-indoors)

James Blake
Andy Roddick
Bob Bryan
Mike Bryan

Captain: Patrick McEnroe

Igor Andreev
Nikolay Davydenko
Dmitry Tursunov
Mikhail Youzhny
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev

Of course, we're thinking Marat Safiin will be an eleventh-hour substitution for Russia since none of this team has a good record against the Americans indoors.

But in Davis Cup competition, anything can happen. Who can forget Dmitry's expertise on indoor clay last year? It came out of nowhere.

That said, the American team is the slight favorite to bring the Cup back to the States from the defending champs, even if Safin is on the team. Can't say he's played much tennis in months, can we? (And I must say, I saw a preview on Tennis Channel, and I was not happy with the doubt I saw from Pete Sampras, Todd Martin, et al. about America's chances to bring the Cup home. Can we not support our own and express confidence in them? Sometimes, I hate how past American players shit on our current top players on the regular.... But I digress. This ain't a Tuesday Tirade.)

I'll be there. In Portland. With NetHead garb on.

I can't wait!

Exhibitions: In Pictures

Image Hosted by

For a write-up of the exhibitions and some good gossip, see Savannah's Week in Review.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Take care of your blessings.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rafael Nadal: 'My Year In Review'

by Savannah

What follows is a translation of an interview Rafael Nadal did with Spanish newspaper El Pais. The link to the source, in Spanish, is at the end.

The translation was done by AMC.

I'm a better player, but I can't run

Rafael Nadal sprints kicking a ball 10 metres throughout Qi Zhong stadium's ailes. After that, he enters the locker room and starts juggling with Roger Federer. Nothing shows that the Swiss has just beated him 6-4 6-1 in the Master's semifinals. Nadal, who says he's done the best season of his life, take the ball and starts playing with the feet. "You are better than Maradona!", cheers Federer. Then, the number two in the world greets with his name the Chinese chauffer of his Mercedes and meets this newspaper.

Q: You've played all the year without preparing the fitness.

A: I've never said this because it sounds like an excuse. I don't like to talk about injuries. I prepare my fitness every day, but I can't run. Now, on the pre-season, I'm gonna try it. Since my foot problem in 2005, I'm more cautious and I avoid running. This is evident. I have to get the fitness by playing matches and it's difficult because I don't have a point of origin, a base.

Q: How have you offset it?

A: I swim, I run inside the swimming pool, I row, bike, eliptic machine... From experience, I know it's not the same as running. It doesn't get you the same confidence. It's hard.

Q: That's why you don't do anymore the running counterattack that gave fame to you?

A: It's all about daring to support your feet. I always got a high ball, long, that it was the best that I had. Unconsciously, my game has adapted to this little problems. Now, I don't do it so aggressive, I take shorter steps, trying to not force that much. Psychologically you are down. You tell yourself "What a fucked up situation! if I could be as good physically as in 2005, with the better tennis player that I am now!"

Q: You've always played thinking on the number one. Now, Novak Djokovic threatens you for the number two.

A: I've always been more preocupied with the ones behind me than in front of me. Federer has always been far away. At certain point of the season, the press started printing that I could be the number one at the end of the year. In the year classification I ahead of him and he had to defend lots of things. The key match was Wimbledon's final.

Q: What happened in the locker room after it? There are some gossips out there...

A: I handled the ceremony well to not act as a brat. When I arrived to the locker room , I sat down and, as it's normal after losing the final of the tournament that you dream on winning, against the number one and with lots of chances, I started to cry of anger, of sadness. It's been the only match of the year that I've cried and one of the few in my career. It was a really close match. I was 20 or 25 minutes there. When people started arriving, I sat down inside the tub. They were cheering up me. I thanked them and I asked for being alone. I don't like people wintessing me crying.

Q: Your uncle and coach Toni even asked you if he should stop coaching you.

A: This year, when things were going bad at the beginning of the season, he suggested it. I said no. He was not the problem. I had enough courage to change the situation without needing another coach. Toni is and will be my coach.

Q: What have you learnt?

A: To be more patient. I have more experience. It's important when things don't go as good as expected. When things go wrong, I get nervous, but I know that the normal is that I have to end up playing well again. If it's not tomorrow, it will be in two weeks, a month, or three or five. Once you've been in the top and you've demonstrated to yourself you can... For something exists the number two. One doesn't go from the top to the bottom. It's the most important of this year. I was 8 month in titleless and I was anxious. When I won in Indian Wells, I began playing at a high level. Lots of times what you need is a "click".

Q: Have you changed your game to obtain it?

A: On clay, I've gone a lot more to the net and I've changed my style a little bit but always with the base being my fighting and high intensity. Now I can go to the net and volley with more guarantees. I've also improved my serve. I still need a bit more acceleration and that confidence that you get when your serve is 10-12 km/h quicker.

Q: You also need to be more aggressive in the rest.

A: I forget it a lot of times. It's something I have to work on because it's not easy for me. Until I see that I do it really badly, that I'm playing too defensive, I don't realise that I have to be more aggressive.

Q: Are you more questioned than others about doping?

A: I don't feel more chased than others, but I feel battered. I find lots of things ridiculous. When I finished Ferrer's match I had to be until 00 there because I was not able to pee. I ate in the ground.

Q: Now a doping positive will be sanctioned with 4 years.

A: A Fenadol, a Vick's Vaporub... it's doping. We have to be conscious that a little error is doping. I don't know if Martina Hingis took cocaine. Do you think it can help her? Not for me. And, however, her public image is destroyed. I despise drugs, but there are things that can't be. Players should be more supportive and all together, that's when we have power, and protest. We need unity. I leave all December and I have to tell day by day where I'm gonna be. It's ridiculous. You tell yourself, "Who am I to be treated as a delinquent?".

Q: Why it looks like Federer is injury free?

A: Due to his calendar and the way he plays. Federar has innate conditions, and I'm sure that I do too, but with a lot more hard working. I don't feel that I get more injured than the others. I feel that the minimal problem is translated into a huge problem. This year I only missed Marseille's tournament.

Q: Didn't you play injured Roland Garros' final?

A: I played all Roland Garros with a numbing foot, infiltrated and with anesthesia. I didn't want to go to the hospital to not have a small doubt in my head. I knew it was nothing serious. It was painful. I went to the hospital after the final and I had a small contusion.

Q: In 2005 your foot injury affected you. This year you've been resting 1 and a half month due to your knees. Did it affect you in the same way?

A: It's different. I was seeing an exit. I knew what I had. I played because it was US Open, but I was not fresh mentally. I had some analysis in Mallorca and everything was quite bad: iron, defenses, ... The doctor gave me a one week rest and I went to Ibiza. It was one of the best weeks of my life.

Q: What did you think when Federer lost to González?

A: That it was a miracle.

Q: Is it a problem that the clay season is so concentrated?

A: It's a big disadventage. I spend two months playing thousands of matches with the pressure of winning. Federer is different. He has a lots of weeks with nothing. I, without clay points, wouldn't be in Shangai. I've done a very good season outside clay, but if something happens during it, I'll be bad all the year.

Q: Do you feel saturated?

A: I arrived too exhausted to Hamburg. There was a moment when my head exploded, even more against Federer. I was playing a final every week for 4 or 5 weeks, with very hard matches and pressure. All the day I was thinking about the same. There's a moment that you are tired.

Q: Chinese were suprised about your quiet personality and the aggressive image you have.

A: I don't do anything else to be different than any other guy in his 20s. I'm a boy, a normal guy.

El Pais

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Idle Chit Chat - Post Masters Cup Edition

by Savannah

A Different View of the TMC

Nadal & Ferrer Battle Everyday, Roddick & Blake Eat & Sleep Together
13 November 2007 15:01:31

It’s been a sort of custom for ATP players to form their cliques among themselves. The arrogant Americans and the relaxed Spaniards have became two of the biggest cliques. The Americans will joke around while warming up, while the Spaniards love to use PS2 to warm up.

Nadal told the media that he specially brought PS2 along this time, this machine has accompanied him all around the world these past few years and he has made a number of new friends. “As long as Ferrer is in the same tournament with me, we will stay together and we will have a game after our matches. What do we play? Of course it’s football. We don’t talk football nor play football but everything’s clear after we sit down and played a few rounds on PS2."

As they are both Spaniards, both Nadal and Ferrer became best friends early on as they were ostracized for not being able to communicate in English. Both their English are so-so and their introverted characters made them lazy to initiate conversations with others, so cooping up in their hotel rooms playing video games became their favourite pastime. Nadal further added that veteran Moya will join in if he is in a good mood. This has became a tradition among the Spanish sportsmen.

However, the united Spaniards have a tough problem; who is better at playstation football has long became a debatable question among themselves. Ferrer claimed he’s the best and defeating Nadal is as easy as cutting vegetables; Nadal said Ferrer has never defeated him before. Guess there will never be a conclusion on who is the better between the two of them.

Note: I couldn't find the Roddick/Blake references. I'm sure that the headline doesn't mean what it appears to mean. This is not a slash forum.

Original Article in Chinese

In The Eyes Of The Chauffeurs: Nadal’s A Good Kid, Djokovic Very Well-mannered

13 November 2007 11:31

They are up close and personal with the players…..

Watching the television broadcast, you may be a dozen kilometers or even ten thousand kilometers away from the ATP Masters Cup players while you may only be 50 metres away from the ATP Masters Cup players in the stadium. But there are groups of people whom can be up close and personal with the players everyday; chauffeurs, chefs, physiotherapists, ball-kids……. You may hardly pay any attention to them but it is precisely the work of these groups of hardworking people whom are safeguarding the basic necessities and daily lives of the players. From a certain angle, they are actually the players’ left hand and right hand people in Shanghai. They can be very close or very far to the players.....

Journalist: Zhang Wei
Subject: Xiao Chen (alias)
Occupation: Chef
Working Hours: 8am to 10pm or later

30 "Catties" In 3 Days
Note: I assume that by "catties" they mean trays or plates or something other than felines.

Italian Pasta
For the past few days, Xiao Chen’s biological clock has been a little erratic, from the 9 to 5 in the hotel to late nights at the stadium, he feels that he has been very forgetful. Since last Sunday, together with dozens of chefs from the Hilton Hotel, they have been providing food for the players and 2,000 VIPs.

“We have been cooking in the big tents all day long, let alone the matches, I don’t even know how the players look like. We have to guarantee piping hot food to be delivered to the players within 20 minutes for breakfast to dinner and even additional meals.” According to the Hilton Hotel’s requests, each kitchen has to provide 20 different types of dishes for the players and VIPs everyday. The only difference between the players and VIPs is, the former chooses from the menus while the latter are buffet style. This has also decided that Xiao Chen and his colleagues are unable to leave their working positions except for their normal rest.

“We have started work the day before the first match start as the players are already training and they require meals.” Xiao Chen added that the most popular food among the players are Italian pasta, chicken, salads, sandwiches, bananas and cheese.

“They ate up 30 catties of Italian pasta in 3 days and this is what we expected, so we have to stock up within 2 hours. We are running out of supplies based on their consumption.” Xiao Chen said that actually the players’ meals quantity are not big, but in order to maintain their physical ability, they have to eat frequently. “The players also know that Chinese delicacies are much more delicious than Western delicacies but they are still used to having Western food before matches and only when they have completed their matches, they are able to relax and have a hot plate dish or thick soya sauce Chinese meal.”

Subject: Liao Zheng (alias)
Occupation: Chauffeur
Working Hours: 24/7

Strange If The Players Are Not Late

About 15 Mercedes Benz C305 are displayed at the players’ entrance, chauffeurs in groups of 2 or 3 will stand under the hot sun or sit at the lounge to watch the matches. Liao Zheng took a pail of water to clean the car while the player was training. “He needs the car urgently during noon and I did not even have time to have my breakfast, not to mention washing the car. Now that they are training, I am making full use of the time to clean the car.” He never looked up while mumbling and gesturing at the same time as if afraid of any time delay.

For this year’s Shanghai Masters Cup, Liao Zheng and his colleagues are responsible for chauffeuring the players in Mercedes Benz C350 and are on standby 24/7. Liao Zheng has been doing this job for the 2nd year and this year he chose to chauffeur Doubles players instead of any famous ATP single players. “You don’t know but it’s very stressful, you have to chauffeur the players and are also responsible for their WAGs. There’s no rest at all.” Liao Zheng recalled, “The players have to attend commercial events before the tournament starts. I have to drive to and fro after the tournament starts. When the tournament is coming to an end, the WAGs will be busy shopping. I’m not exaggerating to say that my daily meals last year were bread.”

So, the experienced Liao Zheng this year chose to serve a pair of unknown doubles players instead. “The foreigners are very polite and very easily satisfied. They are very happy if you bring them to the temple or New World. They go to this 2 places year after year.”

Liao Zheng added that his colleagues will also gossip about their “passengers” in private, eg. Nadal obeys his uncle, a typical good kid, his manager is also Nalbandian’s manager; Djokovic is not as fierce as he looks, he’s very well-mannered and say thank you… When asked what is the common characteristic of the players? Liao Zheng blurted out, “Not punctual, they said they want to use the car at 10 but they will show up earliest at 11. It will be strange if they are punctual. Are you a reporter? I won’t say anymore. My superior has ordered that we are not supposed to talk to strangers. I will lose my rice bowl if I continue.”

SINA news China

Translations provided by Veyonce.

Wrap Up and Commentary on the TMC Shanghai 2007

For Craig's wrap-up of the 2007 Masters Cup, click here.

Martina Hingis News

Her ranking has been removed from the WTA official site.
Also found this gem on Off The Baseline

Exhibitions - ATP

Roger Federer vs Pete Sampras in Seoul

Rafael Nadal vs Richard Gasquet in Kuala Lumpur

Does anyone think they've paid Pete enough to lose to Roger?

Couple Alerts:

Serena is reported by two gossip sites and Page Six to be dating the rapper known as Common (real name Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. (born March 13, 1972). She's in his latest video which features Alicia Keys and Kerry Washington as well. Okay all you Astrology buffs. A Pisces man and a Libra woman. That's right, drag out your editions of "Linda Goodman's Love Signs" and see if this is a match made in heaven or would be better as a drive by.

  • Okay was I the only one to notice that ROCK Mirka was wearing on the third finger of her left hand?! I was almost blinded by it and I was watching half a world away in my living room. Come on you Roger fans. Get to steppin'. Whazzup?!!!!

Serious Stuff

More on Nikolay's problems. I thought vengeance was a dish best served cold?

There has always been a suspicion, given Nikolay Davydenko's personal attack in April on Etienne de Villiers, the chief executive of the ATP, accusing him of incompetence, that the Russian has been a marked man. The world No4 remains under investigation after a match he was involved in during August in Poland was the subject of irregular betting patterns, but yesterday he won his appeal against a £1,000 fine for allegedly not trying hard enough during a defeat by Croatia's Marin Cilic in St Petersburg last month.


Gold and Silver Exemptions for 2008 - WTA

Thanks to "Spiceboy" for posting the 2008 GOLD EXEMPT LIST

1. Henin
2. Sharapova
3. Jankovic

4. S. Williams*
5. Kuznetsova**
6. Ivanovic

7. Chakvetadze
8. V. Williams
9. Mauresmo
10. Petrova

11. Hantuchova
12. Bartoli
13. Hingis +

14. Vaidisova
15. Schnyder
16. Dementieva
17. Peer
18. Safina
19. Golovin
20. Bammer
20. Dulko (WC)
20. Sugiyama (WC)

Gold Exempt Emeritus: Lindsay Davenport

*S.Williams is #4 in Americas and Europe region
**Kuznetsova is #4 in Asia Pacific region

+ As of the WTA Tour ranking on the Monday after the US Open, September 10, 2007


21. A. Bondarenko
22. Safarova
23. Szavay
24. Srebotnik
25. Schiavone
26. Li
27. Mirza
28. Pierce (SR 27)
29. Garbin
30. Zvonareva

31. A.Radwanska
32. Medina Garrigues
33. Krajicek
34. Santangelo
35. Kirilenko
36. Stosur
37. Danilidou
38. Azarenka
39. Paszek
40. Razzano
41. Vakulenko
42. Loit
43. Muller
44. Dushevina
45. K. Bondarenko
46. Jackson (SR 46)
47. Tu
48. Shaughnessy
49. Peng
50. Poutchkova
50. Pennetta (WC)
50. Vesnina (WC)

Odds and Ends

Donald Young and Steve Darcis are among those younger guns of the ATP who have played their way into the top 100 in time for the Australian Open.

Agnes Szavay is reported to be playing an exhibition match soon. I hope this means her back problems are better and that we'll see more of her in 2008.

The biggest bandwagons of 2007 have to be the ones featuring Novak Djokovic, David Nalbandian and David Ferrer. All three men secured wins over the top dogs after Wimbledon.

Most disappointing year on the WTA side has to go to Maria Sharapova. People jumped through hoops and did other gymnastic moves to try and secure her at least one slam this year and it didn't happen. She's still in the top ten though and unless everyone starts inhaling the baseline she'll end next year right about where she is now. I don't think Sveta will hold onto her number two ranking unless she out Jelena's Jelena.

Rafa is not going to make the South American swing in 2008 much to the disappointment of the TD's in Mexico and Buenos Aires. The Spanish press is reporting that he'll play Rotterdam and Dubai followed by Indian Wells and the the Davis Cup tie in Peru. Smart move on his part.

Funny how David Nalbandian is simply "Dahveed" now isn't it?

Some Final Thoughts

I need an explanation. Why is it other fandoms suffer through slams of their idol while fans of Roger Federer seem to do what I call swarming and proceed to give a verbal beat down to anyone who dares point out some of their FedGod's faults? Ask any fan of Andy Roddick for example what they've had to grin and bear over the years and you get an idea of what I'm talking about. Many of us Rafa fans get very upset by the slurs directed against him and we have forums to vent our anger but I don't see the swarming I see by Roger's fans. What about fans of Lleyton Hewitt? Martina Hingis? Justine Henin? Lleyton is regularly voted most hated. Justine has so many nicknames that could be considered slanderous it's not funny. And Martina, formerly famous for the tongue that knew no limits is now going to be the butt of baseline jokes the rest of her life.

And yet I don't see the swarming by their fans.

Dígame. Why is Roger considered above criticism when he so often leaves himself open to it? Sure he's answering the questions the reporters are asking him but he doesn't endear himself to everyone when he makes comments like the following made after his TMC match against Andy Roddick. I'm including the question for what will be obvious reasons.

Q. Watching last night's match against Andy, one was tempted to conclude he really lacks the tools and variety to challenge you, at least at the moment. If you compare tonight's match with yesterday's match, it's a similar pattern. When you're playing like this, are there any answers to your game you see on the horizon in the men's game? Is there any difference between the challenge you felt in the course of the match between tonight and last night?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, look, it's always been my big strength. Once I get on a roll it's hard to stop me. It's always been like this.

Even in my young days, you know, as a junior, I was always so talented. Back then I didn't work hard enough yet to put it all together, you know, for, I don't know, let's say six games or, you know, two sets or something. Now I can. Now I can even pull it even through even longer and against the best in the world. I've beaten Rafa before 6-Love in a set. I've beaten the best very convincingly. But for me it's great to do it over and over again, you know, over many months, many years.

When it happens again for me, it's not as big of a surprise because this is why I work my tail off basically. That it all pays off in the end, it seems it's paying off again, you know, with my good preparation, my good scheduling. It's always nice when you can beat guys like Andy or Rafa, obviously.

I have no problem with most of what he says here except for that one highlighted phrase. He's smart enough to know that line isn't necessary. All he had to say was that he learned to pace himself and focus on his strengths and everything else is okay.

Then there was this gem.
Q. How would you coach someone to beat Roger Federer?

A.What would you say? "Don't even try, pal," he said with a grin. "It's going to be really, really difficult, you know. You're probably not going to win, but you can always try. I'm just kidding. I don't know. I'm not a coach just yet. I'm still a player, so I won't answer."

Then there's this classic from 2005:

No Trouble for Federer as He Cruises Into Semifinals

But Federer does not expect Hewitt to take the risk of radically changing his counterpunching baseline game. "He could, you know," Federer said. "But then again, he could even run into the knife more brutally."

Please keep in mind I'm just asking the question Roger fans. With all his PR savvy and IMG support shouldn't someone tell him to STFU and not take the bait reporters throw at him? And what would you all say if someone else said the exact same things and was not named Roger Federer?

Monday, November 19, 2007

The WTA Top Ten for 2007

by Savannah

It's the end of the official season and everyone is doing rankings and ratings so why wouldn't I? Top 10 lists are a pain because they're subjective. How did I pick my Top 10?

Who accomplished the most in terms of her career this year? Who ended up in the Top 10 to the surprise of almost everyone? Who got a high ranking despite play that was jaw droppingly bad at times? Can you have the worst year of your career and still remain in the Top 10? Did you play yourself into the top only to realize how rarefied the air is up there and falter? Who is hungry enough to walk over the bodies of those in front of her in her Christian Louboutin stilettos?

And who should tennisheads be looking out for in 2008?

Let's agree to disagree and talk about the Women of Tennis and how they fared in 2007.

Serena Williams

I'm placing her at the top because she came back from so far down this year. She won the Australian beating Maria Sharapova convincingly and then followed up with a good spring season in the States.

In my opinion she should not have played the US Open. But she did, fighting through the same injuries that brought her low in Madrid. People always say that Serena is not dedicated to tennis. Too many outside interests. Blah, blah, blah. Her gritty determination this year earns her the top spot.

Venus Williams

She won Wimbledon despite everything but the kitchen sink being thrown at her. Then again I just may have missed the sink. Instead of coming back to the States and resting on her laurels she played a full schedule which included World Team Tennis and the Fed Cup where she almost single handedly beat a great Russian team. After the US Open she played a full Asian swing despite the injury issues that were cited as the reason she pulled out of the YEC in Madrid.

No way she should have been in the mix at all this year but she was.

Justine Henin

I place her third because she was already at the top of the heap and managed to stay there earning herself another Player of the Year award. Justine has, despite her size, been hitting the ball as hard or harder than the Big Babes of tennis. She has also shown stamina and endurance that bigger and seemingly stronger women don't exhibit. During the Final in Madrid it was Maria who was visibly tired in the end.

Justine looked like she could play another two sets.

She plays a limited schedule (she has already announced that she may not play the Olympics in 2008) and makes the most of it.

Marion Bartoli

She's been around like forever. Her father is considered a "mad scientist" among tennisheads for his unorthodox training techniques. He was the one who encouraged his daughter to put on weight but she seems to be shedding some of those pounds in an effort to be more fit.

Her big win this year was of course at Wimbledon where she played the final against Venus Williams who was not going to be denied this year. I think she's had some issues adjusting to the pressure of being among the top women players in the world. I look for a fitter, and more mentally tough Marion next year.

Anna Chakvetadze

This woman with the long long hair and the face of an angel has shown that she has the will and drive, and the game, to take her to the heights of her sport. Of all the top women to me she is the most "gangster", the one who doesn't try to hide her naked ambition behind a nice demeanor. I'm sure her handlers will tell her to tone it down so we may see a more demure Anna next year.

Oh, and she played some fantastic tennis this year. She makes it look like she's not doing anything and then you're on the wrong end of the score against her. It took me awhile to see what she was doing. I see it now and look for her to make a big move next year.

Jelena Jankovic

We love to tease Jelena don't we? She's played so much tennis this year it's a wonder she knows where she is at any given time. The problem is that by the time the US Open rolls around she is already on a down turn. She even had a meltdown in Bali during a match against a resurgent Lindsay Davenport. But she deserves to be in the Top 10 both in official ranking and on fan lists. Let's see if she makes the mental adjustment to being at the top of the game and plays a much saner schedule next year.

Ana Ivanovic

The Katherine Hepburn of tennis played her way to the top of her sport. I don't rank her higher because when the pressure was on during a match she seemed to wilt in the heat. Her big claim to fame this year was that Maria Sharapova seemed not to want to play her and did all she could to avoid doing so. It all turned out to be moot but this young woman, like Anna Chakvetadze, has the will and the drive and the game to stay at the top.

Maria Sharapova

Despite a shoulder injury that seemed to come and go depending on what was going on in a particular match she held on to a Top 10 ranking by the tips of her fingers and played extremely well at the YEC. All things being equal she would have won that Final but that is why matches are played on the court and not in the blogosphere.
By every other measure though she had a horrible year not winning a major, going out in the third round of the US Open, and managing one solitary win against a tired opponent in California. Next year will be crucial for her.

Nicole Vaidisova

Illness laid her low this year but she's still on my list because despite her illness she had a decent second half of the year and is poised to challenge the Big Babes next year. I still see her as having a better game than either Ana or Anna but she needs to keep her emotions under control. She is the youngest on my list and I think that next year, barring illness or injury, she'll be among the elite of her sport.

Svetlana Kuznetsova

I saw a match this year where Sveta played fantastic tennis. She was hitting on all cylinders and blew her opponent off the court. The next day she looked as if she'd never seen a tennis court before and left me wondering which player is the real Sveta. It's sad when she is ranked second in the world after Justine and no one expected her to make the semifinals at the YEC. She is still young, 22, and it's possible that like Martina Navratilova did back in the day, she'll get herself under control and play to her potential.

Honorable Mentions

Agnes Szavay

I do hope that Agnes is able to play a full schedule next year. Serious back problems shortened her 2007. This girl has some serious talent and can give the older stars fits. She's needed on the tour

Aggie Radwanska

At the US Open, she beat Maria Sharapova like she stole something, surprising everyone. She is also very young and didn't have a great second half of the year. The potential is there. I hope she's up to the challenge.

Tatiana Golovin

All the talent in the world but injuries shortened her season. She's shown herself capable of playing at a high level. I do hope she's able to play a full schedule next year.

Shuai Peng

After Li Na went down with injury this young woman stepped up to the plate for China and had very decent results the second half of the year. She is a dark horse for next year.

Chan Yung-jan(Latisha) and Chuang Chia-Jung

This doubles pair has put themselves firmly in the mix and can only go up in ranking.